Why Do Catholics Pray the Rosary?

Good morning/afternoon/evening/2 a.m. in the morning readers! That new cat on the cover of this article is Raven. She met us (Michael, Harry, Theo, Callie, and me) at the airport as she was going on one of her business travels.

Throughout our discussions, we discovered that Raven was a non-practicing Catholic that was a former Jehovah’s Witness. She asked questions about the Holy Eucharist, mass, and the Immaculate Conception. She also asked for a Catholic perspective on St. Michael the Archangel. One of the questions she asked was why other Catholics prayed the rosary.

Here’s how she phrased the question:

“It seems so easy for the others [to pray the rosary], but it’s hard for me to pray it because of its length. It’s also hard to focus as I pray it.”

As our conversation continued, I explained to her why I prayed the rosary, the purpose of the rosary, and how she could focus better while praying it.

I recorded that part of our conversation below. Harry and Callie, the other cats on the cover, also were in the discussion. I might write out the full conversation in the future.

So full steam ahead!

Opening

Raven, Harry, Callie, and I are sitting around a table at the airport. I am eating a cookie, Harry is drinking a smoothie he bought at the cafe AND eating a donut, Callie has her Bible open to the Gospels, and Raven just placed her phone in her backpack.

Me: “Raven, I’m glad I met you. You were saying something about the rosary earlier, right?”

Raven: “Yep!”

Harry: “Mhmh.”

Me: “I think the donuts taste great, too. What were you about to say?”

Raven: “Like what I said earlier, lots of Catholics pray the rosary. It seems so easy for the others, but it’s hard for me to pray it because of its length. It’s also hard to focus as I pray it.”

Me: “Thanks for refreshing my memory. Let me think…”

Harry finishes chewing on his donut. He begins speaking to fill the silence.

Harry: “Cat always says that. Most likely he says ‘let me think’ for the sake of the articles he writes.”

Raven: “Cat writes articles?”

Callie: “They’re more like blog posts.”

Raven: “Oh.”

I Begin sharing my answer

Me: “I think I should begin with the purpose of the rosary. The purpose of the rosary is to help whoever is praying it meditate on, or think deeply about, Jesus of Nazareth’s life, death, and resurrection.”

Harry: “You should clarify more clearly what the word meditate means in this context.”

Me: “Good call. Like what I said, meditate in this context means to think deeply. I’m just saying meditate because it is one word instead of three.”

Raven: “So the rosary is a type of prayer that is optional?”

Me: “Correct.”

Callie: “Cat, you once told me about where the rosary came from. That was interesting. You should tell Raven about it.”

The Origins of the rosary

Me: “Alright, then.”

Raven: “So where did the rosary come from? Who made it?”

Me: “Well… that’s the part that might shock you. History affirms that the rosary was spread by St. Dominic, a Catholic priest who founded the Dominican religious order. But Catholic tradition says something else.”

Raven: “Well, what does Catholic tradition say happened?”

Me: “Catholic tradition says that it was actually Mary who gave St. Dominic the rosary. According to that, she did so in a vision. This was during a time where a certain movement against Catholicism was spreading. As St. Dominic told others about the rosary, more people decided to leave this movement than before.”

Raven: “Interesting.”

Me: “You don’t have to believe that this vision happened. However, the rosary helps me think about Jesus’ life. It allows me to focus, which is hard to do in modern society.”

Harry: “Personally, I think that I don’t need to pray the rosary. When I think deeply about Jesus’ life, I read the Bible and pray in my head. Sometimes I read commentaries.”

Callie: “Praying the rosary, reading the Bible, and praying spontaneously are all effective ways to think about Jesus’ life. Each one has its own special benefits.”

A Brief Break

Callie: “It’s so interesting to see what cats other than me think. Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Protestants, and other Christians don’t agree on some things, such as the true presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist or devotion to Mary. Fortunately, we all share the belief that Jesus came in the flesh, died on the cross for our sins, rose again from the dead, and has forgiven us, not because we did something worthy of His forgiveness.”

Me: “Even if someone who is reading this article isn’t a Christian, I think it is awesome that they are reading about our faith. Sometimes I read things that Jews, atheists, Muslims, and more write. It allows me to better understand what others believe so I don’t misrepresent them.”

Harry: “This has been an interesting conversation. Maybe we should get back to talking about the rosary. How is it prayed again?”

I Explain How the Rosary is Structured

Me: “Perfect timing! The rosary looks like a necklace with a crucifix, two different types of beads, and a centerpiece. On the crucifix, you do the Sign of the Cross and the Apostles’ Creed.”

This would be a picture that wouldn't intrude in the conversation, but Cat presents to you a highly simplified diagram of the rosary. The crucifix is held when praying the Apostles' Creed, regular beads are... well, beads, the five different-looking beads are called decades, and the centerpiece that generally is a Miraculous Medal is called a medallion.
This diagram is free to use without giving any credit.

Raven: “If I remember correctly, you pray an Our Father on the bead above the crucifix.”

Me: “Correct! On the next three beads, you pray one Hail Mary each.”

Callie: “What do you pray on the bead below the medallion?”

Me: “First, you pray a Glory Be. Here is where it gets a little more complicated. The rosary has four different types, or categories, of events in Jesus’ life to meditate on. These are called mysteries. You can either pray the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, or Luminous Mysteries.”

Raven: “That makes sense.”

Me: “Thanks. So on the bead below the medallion, you announce the mystery that you will be considering. This can sound like, ‘The First Glorious Mystery: Jesus’ Resurrection.’ Pray the Our Father. Afterwards, skip the medallion and pray one Hail Mary each for the ten beads.”

Harry: “What do you do while you pray the Hail Maries?”

Me: “Consider the mystery that you announced. Use your imagination to enter the scene! God likes it when we do that.”

Callie: “Once you get to the eleventh bead, do you repeat this process?”

Me: “Yes. With one difference. Pray the Fatima prayer before you announce the next mystery. You continue this process until you pray all five Our Fathers and all fifty Hail Maries.”

Raven: “It’s going to be hard to memorize all those prayers!”

Me: “No fear—search up the names of these prayers and look for a Catholic source. You’ll find them quickly.”

Raven: “Thanks for teaching us how to pray the rosary.”

Me: “You welcome.”

Raven: “I have one more question. What is the value in praying the rosary? If you could answer that question, I would grow even more interested in praying it. Could you also show me how to get through it without falling asleep?”

Me: “Sure.”

The Why and Practical Tips

Me: “Overall, the value of praying the rosary is a prayer that helps us love God with not only our heart but also our mind and soul.”

Harry: “What do you mean?”

Me: “When we pray the rosary, we use our minds to contemplate Jesus. This is loving God with our mind. By the way, when I say love, I mean the biblical devotion of love. The biblical definition of love is sacrificing for someone else. It is to love someone else for their sake, not yours.

“We also love God with our heart and emotions because we are using our emotions and imagination to enter into events in Jesus’ life. And by making a conscious decision to love God, we are loving God with our souls. The author of Matthew records the following words of Jesus’ of Nazareth in Matthew 22:37-40 (emphasis through color added).

“He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’”

Matthew 22:37-40, NABRE

Callie: “I never thought about that before.”

Me: “As for practical tips, the rosary is a long prayer when prayed correctly. It can take hours. There are ways you can make it easier, though.”

Raven: “No wonder I was struggling to pray it.”

Me: “I also struggle, too. Many people who are busy or find it hard to focus pray each mystery of the rosary at different times in the day. Eventually, it will become easier to pray the entire rosary at once. If you pray the rosary late in the night, it gets hard to stay awake. Whatever you do, don’t be surprised if you fall asleep while praying the rosary on your bed.”

Raven: “Thanks again for the advice.”

Me: “You welcome. Some Catholics also believe that whenever you pray the rosary, those in Heaven pray it along with you. My deacon once told me that.”

Conclusion

Callie: “Now that you’ve shared all of this, I’m going to try to pray the rosary. My only concern is the prayers related to Mary. The Hail Mary makes me uncomfortable.”

Me: “We don’t have enough time to talk about this prayers. For now, I have an article on my website called Do Catholics Worship Mary? that could help you.”

Callie: “I’ll read it in the future.”

Raven looks at her watch and gasps.

Raven: “Goodness! My meeting with my client is in five minutes!”

Callie: “You had better go. Here’s my phone number so you can contact me later.”

Callie scribbles her phone number and gives it to Raven. Raven does the same thing.

Raven: “God bless you all.”

She scrambles away.

Callie: “I’ve got to leave for my appointment. See you all later.”

Callie pads away from the table.

After everyone else is gone, Harry looks at Cat.

Harry: “See, this is why I’m not an entrepreneur.”


The end

Thanks for reading! I hope this answered some of your questions. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment. You could also post on our forum if you want to have a full-blown conversation.

Bonus: Free phone wallpaper

For all Catholics who want to show their faith to others with CATS! It looks like the cover image on this article, but it’s been resized and tweaked to perfectly fit your lock and home screen.

Featuring:

  • A fun, creative design 🙃
  • Four sticker-style cats with varying expressions
  • Area for the time on your phone (if you are an Apple user).
  • The wallpaper is the right size, so no need to zoom in and out trying to fit as much as possible in.

Enjoy!

Citations

Engelman, Stephanie. “St. Dominic and the Origins of the Rosary.” Tekton Ministries, 4 June 2019, tektonministries.org/st-dominic-and-the-origins-of-the-rosary.

Ellis, Sam. “Why Do Catholics Pray the Rosary?” Catholics & Bible, 30 Dec. 2020, catholicsbible.com/why-do-catholics-pray-the-rosary.

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This article was written by…

I now sport a finely combed mustache to celebrate the release of my new newsletter, Catholic Cat Investigates. …Still not a loaf of bread. Got Spirit?

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2 responses to “Why Do Catholics Pray the Rosary?”

  1. Deacon Joe Avatar
    Deacon Joe

    What a great article. Wow color me impressed. Very Well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

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